The Telegraph – On pogroms

How the night of broken glass was planned and executed
Kristallnacht 09/10 November 1938

Samantak Das

Kolkata – West Bengal – India, 28 February 2020. At about 9:45 on the morning of Monday, 07 November 1938, 17-year-old Herschel Feibel Grynszpan, a stateless, unemployed Jewish refugee, living in Paris with his uncle under the perpetual fear of arrest, walked into the German embassy on 78, Rue de Lille, in the fashionable Seventh Arrondissement, and asked to meet the German ambassador to France to whom, he said, he had to hand over an important document.

Since the ambassador had just gone out for his morning constitutional, the duty clerk asked Grynszpan to meet the relatively junior diplomat, Ernst von Rath, instead.

Grynszpan walked into Rath’s office, called him a “filthy Boche”, pulled out a revolver he had bought earlier that morning, and shot him five times in the stomach to, as he had written in a postcard to his parents that was found in his pocket, protest against, and bring to the world’s notice, Nazi Germany’s persecution of 12,000 Jews.

He made no attempt to escape when the police came for him. The German Führer, Adolf Hitler, sent his personal physician, Karl Brandt, to tend to the grievously wounded Rath, who, in spite of the best efforts of German and French doctors, died two days later.

News of Rath’s death reached Hitler in Munich, where he was celebrating the 15th anniversary of the abortive Beer Hall Putsch, along with other functionaries of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, better known as the Nazi Party, among whom were present the minister of propaganda, Paul Joseph Goebbels, and the Gestapo chief, Heinrich Müller.

After discussing matters with Hitler, Goebbels made a fiery speech to a group of veteran stormtroopers, urging them to avenge Grynszpan’s hideous act in the guise of “spontaneous demonstrations”; telephone calls were made across Germany asking for many more such “spontaneous” actions to take place against Jews.

Later, shortly before midnight on November 9, Müller sent a telegram to all police units across Germany telling them that “in shortest order, actions against Jews and especially their synagogues will take place in all of Germany. These are not to be interfered with”.

Between then and the following day, November 10, 1938, hundreds of synagogues were severely damaged or totally destroyed; about 7,500 Jewish businesses ransacked, looted, and/or burnt; at least 91, possibly more, Jews murdered; and an uncountable number of Jewish homes, hospitals, schools, cemeteries, and so on attacked.

The perpetrators were often the neighbours of those they killed, looted, attacked, or harmed in other ways. Obedient to the orders of their boss, Gestapo chief Müller, the police arrested some 30,000 Jewish men between the ages of 16 and 60; to accommodate them, facilities at the concentration camps of Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen were expanded.

When synagogues were put to the torch, firemen stood by, following explicit instructions not to interfere unless, of course, neighbouring “Aryan” buildings were threatened.

The night of November 9-10, 1938, has earned a permanent place in the history of human infamy as “Kristallnacht”, (literally “crystal night”, sometimes rendered as “night of broken glass”), referring to the millions of shards of shattered glass that littered the streets where Jewish homes, schools, synagogues, shops, buildings, and so on had been damaged or destroyed.

Kristallnacht, also known as “Pogromnacht” or “the November Pogrom”, is generally acknowledged as the first pogrom in Nazi Germany.

The online Encyclopaedia Britannica tells us that the word “pogrom”, which came into English from Russian via Yiddish, originally meant “devastation” or “riot” and was “usually applied to attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries”; it is now used to describe “a mob attack, either approved or condoned by authorities, against the persons and property of a religious, racial, or national minority”.

It is possible to argue that Kristallnacht gave birth to a new kind of pogrom, which was both a culmination of events (sporadic attacks on, and sustained propaganda against, Jews, accompanied by the passing of anti-Jewish laws by the German State) as well as the inspiration for a new cycle of ruthless anti-Jewish measures (fining the Jewish community for the damage caused by the events of Kristallnacht, preventing German Jews from claiming insurance, barring them from theatres, making Jews travel in separate train compartments, and so on) leading to the formulation of the “final solution”, the total extermination of all Jews from the face of the earth.

The modern pogrom is thus both an end and a beginning: the end of a cycle of relatively minor attacks on a targeted community (which may be physical as well as otherwise), and the beginning of a new, State-sanctioned and sponsored, and efficiently discharged, series of violent assaults (accompanied by legislative measures to hinder or wholly prevent any kind of remedial action), often culminating in genocide.

It is worth noting a few other features of modern pogroms.

First, the sustained demonizing of the targeted minority community, and the labelling of members of that community as posing a threat to the integrity and identity of the majority community (which is often conflated with the identity and integrity of the nation); such demonizing is carried out over a significant span of time by a variety of actors, both State and non-state, using various channels and forms of communication before, during, and after, the actual physical assaults on persons and property belonging to the targeted community.

Second, the naming and shaming of those members of the majority community who challenge, protest against, or question the need for, the violence unleashed on the targeted community, and, often, the social and/or professional ostracization of such individuals, which might include the enactment of laws, rules, or regulations banning such protests or challenges; if such protesting individuals are government functionaries, they may be transferred, suspended, prosecuted, or, in extreme cases, imprisoned.

Third, the support of the State, either through silence, inaction, overt or covert incitement to violence, and, perhaps most importantly, the labelling of violence against the targeted community as spontaneous retaliation against acts committed by a member or members of the minority community (see the story of Herschel Grynszpan recounted earlier), beyond the best efforts of the State to control it.

Fourth, the deployment of what the noted political scientist and long-time scholar of India, Paul Richard Brass, calls “diversionary tactics” which, in his words “are essential to the production and reproduction” of “mass collective violence”.

The process of diversion begins, Brass reminds us, with mislabelling, where a more extreme form of violence is labelled, either by its perpetrators, or supporters, or even scholars, as a lesser form. “Pogromists insist that the violence that has just occurred is nothing more than a riot.

Genocidal acts are labelled by their perpetrators as merely spontaneous revenge and retaliation by justly and excusably outraged members of a group, acting spontaneously against an ‘other’ group whose members have misbehaved.”

Finally, when a pogrom is underway, the silence of those who are at some distance from it, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional, and who refuse to take cognizance of the action and the discourse around it becomes complicit in the downplaying, and ultimate justification, of such violence. A pogrom, which some might insist is nothing more than an ordinary riot, can quite easily turn into genocide.

The author is professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, and has been working as a volunteer for a rural development NGO for the last 30 years.

The Tribune – Malerkotla sets example in amity, peace panel leads the way

Parvesh Sharma, Tribune News Service

Sangrur – Panjab – India, 27 February 2020. Amid riots over the CAA in northeast Delhi, Punjab’s Muslim majority town Malerkotla has set an example in brotherhood and amity with Hindus and Muslims offering prayers in a temple and mosque that share a common wall. Locals have formed a 37-member peace panel representing all communities.

“In Malerkotla, Hindus and Muslims share their problems and are more than willing to help each other,” says Sandeep Kumar of Somsons Colony. “Peace committee members have been working in tandem with the police and the administration.

At times problems do crop up, but these are quickly addressed and solved,” says peace committee member Iqbal Mohammad Fauji, who is also Nagar Council president. An agitation against the CAA, NRC and NPR has been going on at Sirhindi Gate for quite some time.

Sikhs and Hindus are also participating in it to express solidarity with Muslim brethren, says an official of the Radha Soami dera.

Even as Manjit Singh Brar, SP, says all localities are under watch, a wary Malerkotla SDM Vikramjit Singh Panthey has sought more police personnel as a precautionary step.

Gent-Sint-Pieter – Leuven NMBS – Gent Gurdwara

15 January 2020

The IC to Brussel and Eupen is 5 minutes late !

Leuven NMBS
15 January 2020

Leuven NMBS Track 2 and 3

Track 1 IC to Brussel and Blankenberge

Working on the infrastructure during the weekend
Coaches replace trains

Gurdwara Mata Sahib Kaur
Artevelde Hogeschool
15 January 2020

One picture by me, one by one of students

See, Man in Blue is missing from this one

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

OFMI – US Politicians Denounce “Deadly Surge of Religious Intolerance in India”

Hindu nationalist BJP threatens to “play a role in US presidential elections”

Washington DC – USA, 27 February 2020, While nearly 40 people are dead from the ongoing violence in Delhi, a number of US politicians are raising their voices against the communal conflict which appears to be instigated by Hindu nationalist organizations affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

“This deadly surge of religious intolerance in India is horrifying,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-American of Hindu faith. “Democracies should not tolerate division and discrimination, or promote laws that undermine religious freedom. The world is watching.”

The violence in Delhi began on February 23 after a BJP leader threatened to “take to the streets” to clear away sit-in protests against India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the CAA “enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.” Human Rights Watch explains that the CAA “discriminates on religious grounds in violation of international law.”

With millions protesting across India and multiple states pledging not to implement the act, anti-CAA protests had already claimed approximately 30 lives before the Delhi violence began.

In a statement condemning the Delhi violence, USCIRF reported that several mosques have been set on fire or otherwise vandalized and “many Muslim residents have been forced to flee the area.” According to USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava, “Reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.

These incidents are even more concerning in the context of efforts within India to target and potentially disenfranchise Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards.”

“This week, Trump visited India but the real story should be the communal violence targeting Muslims in Delhi right now,” said Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, one of three Muslim members of US Congress. “We cannot be silent as this tide of anti-Muslim violence continues across India.”

“We must speak out in the face of threats to human rights in India,” said Congressman Alan Lowenthal. Congressman Don Beyer said, “I condemn attacks against Muslims in India, and reject violence, bigotry, and religious intolerance. The US State Department should too.”

At least two presidential candidates have also spoken out.

Although Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke of strengthening relationships with democratic partners like India, she added, “But we must be able to speak truthfully about our values, including religious freedom and freedom of expression, and violence against peaceful protestors is never acceptable.”

“Over 200 million Muslims call India home,” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying, ‘That’s up to India.’ This is a failure of leadership on human rights.”

Sanders’ remarks prompted a response from B L Santosh, a BJP National General Secretary. “How much ever natural we wish to be, you compel us to play a role in the presidential elections,” threatened Santosh. “Sorry to say so, but you are compelling us.”

“While Indian-American politicians like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal are setting an example for the world, the BJP is openly threatening to interfere in America’s sovereign elections,” says Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India.

“This threat cannot be allowed to go unanswered. Conspicuously silent voices are those of Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Ro Khanna.

We are not surprised that Krishnamoorthi, who has attended Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh events celebrating the paramilitary’s founding, is silent. But why is there no word from Khanna, who is a national co-chair of Sanders’ campaign who made international headlines last year after calling on Hindu-American politicians to reject Hindutva?”

“It’s not just Muslims who are under attack in India, but all non-Hindus,” says OFMI associate director Brian Isai. “The RSS is the same organization responsible for the slaughter of Christians in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008, the murder of Christian minister Graham Staines in 1999, and routine violence against congregations throughout India.

The tide of anti-Muslim violence can very easily become a tide of anti-Christian violence tomorrow. America must take a stand before it’s too late.

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity. OFMI believes in cultivating an appreciation for personal liberty, individual sovereignty, and the truth as counter-measures to corruption, discrimination, and persecution.

BBC News – Delhi riots: ‘Hero cop’ who braved a mob to save lives

New Delhi – India, 26 February 2020. An Indian policeman is being hailed as a hero after he braved rioting mobs to save families during days of religious violence in the capital Delhi.

Riots in the city broke out on Sunday, killing 39 people and injuring more than 200.

Neeraj Jadaun, a superintendent of police in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state, told the BBC’s Vikas Pandey that he was patrolling a border checkpoint on 25 February when he heard sounds of gunfire coming from Karawal Nagar in Delhi, just 200m (650ft) away from him.

He saw a mob of 40-50 people setting vehicles on fire when one of them jumped into a house with a petrol bomb. At that point, Mr Jadaun decided to break with traditional police protocol and made a split-second decision to cross the state border into Delhi.

In India, police officers need explicit permission to cross state borders.

“I chose to cross. I was willing to go alone despite being aware of the danger and the fact that it was beyond my jurisdiction. Those were the most terrifying 15 seconds of my life. Thankfully, the team followed me, and my seniors also supported me when I informed them later,” he said.

“It was dangerous as we were outnumbered and the rioters were armed. We first tried to negotiate with them and when that failed, we told them that police would open fire. They retreated but seconds later, they threw stones at us and we also heard gunshots,” he added.

However, Mr Jadaun and his team held their positions and kept pushing back until the rioters finally left.

Richi Kumar, a reporter with the Hindi daily Amar Ujala, described Mr Jadaun’s decision as the “bravest act” he had ever seen.

“The situation was very dangerous. The rioters were fully armed and they were not ready to listen anybody. I can describe them as bloodthirsty. They were throwing stones at the police but Mr Jadaun did not back down. There was real danger of policemen being shot at by rioters,” he told the BBC.

The violence first broke out in north-east Delhi between protesters for and against a controversial citizenship law. But they have since taken on communal overtones. Mr Jadaun said the rioters he saw had come prepared for arson.

“The area had many shops with stocks of bamboo. A fire would have engulfed the whole area and had that been allowed to happen, the death toll in Delhi would have been much higher.”

But, Mr Jadaun is uncomfortable about being hailed as a hero. “I am not a hero. I have taken oath to protect any Indian in danger. I was just doing my duty because I wasn’t willing to let people die under my watch. We were in a position to intervene and we did that,” he added.

Similar small acts of heroism – of Hindus and Muslims standing together – have also begun to emerge.

Subhash Sharma, from Ashok Nagar, one of the worst-affected areas, described how he ran to help after mobs set a mosque on fire.

“There were thousands of people in the mob and there were only a handful in the mosque. As soon as I saw it set on fire, I switched on the water pump in my house and ran there with a hose,” Mr Sharma told BBC Hindi.

Murtaza, a man from the same neighbourhood, said that he wanted to flee the area, but his Hindu neighbours told him not to leave.

“They assured us they would not let anybody harm us,” he said.

BBC Hindi’s Faisal Mohammed also spoke to two neighbours, a Hindu and a Muslim, from the Vijay park area in Maujpur, one of the areas worst-affected by the violence.

The two described how they rallied their neighbours to chase away a mob that had been burning vehicles and shattering windows in the vicinity. “The next day we shut the main road and people from the neighbourhood gathered together and sat outside,” one of the men, Jamaluddin Saifi, said.

Residents there also set up a “peace committee”, made up of both Hindus and Muslims, who went from house to house telling people not to believe rumours and to keep children inside.

As the Indian capital struggles to pick up the pieces, it is these stories that are giving residents some hope that life can eventually go back to normal.